journey of self discovery part 3: barcelona, rugby and eurovison

so we eat on the train, which is showing a terrible film starring samuel jackson called 'the man', about a bumbling flatulent dentist that gets mixed up in an undercover gun bust. almost the entire film takes place in one car, and further investigation shows the baddie is played by luke goss. yes. luke goss. we got into town fairly early and so dropped bags off, et some more cheap shop eats (barcelona, unlike valencia, has supermarkets) and hit the segrada familia. you don't need me to tell you about the segrada.. it's that stupidly massive thing they're building that's going to turn into a big jesus robot and attack islamabad... or something. the muslims won't be able to defend themselves because they're not allowed to make images of mohammed so the catholics will win, making them right. it won't be ready for another 125 years, but i'm sure it will be fully operational long before then, to introduce another cliche. on with the trip. after that we headed back into town, and went to the other cathedral, the grumpy one worried about being decomissioned. it felt it; gloomy, ancient and traditional. the cloisters were closed which meant we couldn't experience the cloister fuck (hahaha). laurence knew his way around which meant i didn't get to figure things out as much as i did before and was much more lost than before, which was already quite lost. we found a toy shop, and they didn't sell pokemon, which i had started to have a massive craving for, but they did have a reasonably priced travel chess set, which we had been looking out for. wasndering around some more anonymous but popular back streets, we couldn't find the veggie buffet laurence needed, but we didn't find a similarly styled veggie tapas place around a corner, where we et and et and played chess. i lost, knowingly. it was dark when we finished and we headed back to the hostel to see what was going on. the living room was nicely full of people - a carload of croatians and two norwegian girls for laurence to practise his silver tongue on. the guys were very blokey, passing around large bottles of beer, and talking about the race (or whatever) they'd driven across europe to see (which is pretty decent),and one was an ultra cool digital artist, showed us some of his pictures on the internet. he was our new best friend, the others didn't seem artful at all; funny how there's always one nice person in any crowd (not that the others were unplasant, just blokey and uncool and clearly interested in the norsk dames). there was talk of going to 'this cocktail bar', so when we were kicked out about midnight or one, we headed back into town, by actually quite the stupidest route imaginable, starting off north when we should have been going due east.our group got dragged apart over the extended trip, two of the croatians fell too far behind, the other two bearing down on the girls excessively. we kept up. however when we got to the square where the cocktail bar was, and got a flyer for an indie night across the placa, and the cocktail place was 8 euros to get in.. we made our excuses, said we'd wait for the other two to catch up (which we did, but they didn't) and went into the indie club. it was free entry with the flyer and we didn't buy a drink all inside, which i think is an excellent deal. it was packed and boiling hot and a monday for gods' sake. the music was pretty good - rock and roll, punk, rock, through some prodigy, even played crack hitler by faith no more. not their best song, but they clearly have a thing for that sort of thing. there was a great cover of la bamba too.. we danced. oh, we danced, it was great. it's what i go to school for. we left when we'd had enough, walked home through a ethnic area of takeaways and kebab shops, none of which we partook in.

the next day we had breakfast from the bakery downstairs and went to parc guell. from the heights there, the most hilarious squat i've ever seen right in front of us - a banner read, 'why do they call it tourist season if we can't shoot them' i worried that i might be a tourist and get shot by anarchists. i guess we were; we did touristy things even if we didn't think we thought like tourists, i felt dirty.
we wandered around parc guell for too long - i'd developed a couple of blisters on my feet and was trying to take it easy, slowly and with frequent brakes. parc guell is another place i don't really feel the need to describe - on one hand, words fail me, and on the other, it's well documented. just a few more gaudi houses and a tortilla bocadillo. walking round, through and out, we found a fountain on a hillside in the shade. the fountain was off but the pond/reserve was still full and it was truely beautfiful, if reminiscant of a playstation game where you have to push blocks around to open the door to the next room. we fell asleep by it, listening to the birds and the odd couple walk by. eventually a dog jumped in the pond and woke up laurence, and disturbed me enough to wake me up with it's subsequent actions. feeling better, we walked back to the tube through an area that seemed to consist entirely of squats. we went to the cloisters again, now open, and very pretty. we went to look for something to eat, but none of the options seemed as good as the moaz on the ramblas. it was good, as always.. i'm getting wary. they're not too big yet, but we did see another couple of them in barcalona and they're ambitions are becoming quite obvious. soon, maybe even now, i will be unable to enter one simply because there's so many. when we got home, the two norsks had left and seemingly been replaced by two dutch girls. also a chinese/canadian lad and an american jewish girl, who was vegetarian and travelling on her own.. if only i hadn't had enough complicated feelings for too many people already.. what? what would i have done? given her my email address? told her to visit me sometime? this is all beside the point. we all (except shlema) went to another cocktail bar, and laurence and i went in this time. it was ok. some mild humour but largely irrelevant. the point is that backpacking is great because of the people. somewhere around here, i got an email from reed, saying they had some work for me starting when i got back - result.

the next day was our last, and we went up to the tibaldo to see the view of the city. there's an entirely innapropiate fun fair up there, but out of season; not that we were thinking of going on the rides, some of which were running. the view from there is pretty much essential, as is the church at the top; the best reverb ever, it made object feel so soft. we got kicked out though, as laurence was telling me the entire plot of the matrix (these two things might not be connected). we were hungry, but not enough to eat at the stupidly expensive cafe up there. there was a notion to walk back down, but we realised the cable car tickets we'd bought were returns so used that instead. going back into the underground, we noticed a massive advert for the science museum and it's rainforest/mangrove type section. we turned around, going in every cafe to see if they had something appealing on the way, but none did until we got to the museum, which didn't either, so we settled for another cheese baguette. sigh. the museum was stupidly good, and had an award to proove it - best european museum (or was it just science museum?) 2006 (i guess the british got it a few years ago or something.. how do they even judge that?) but it was really cool. all hands on, interactive stuff. how physics works, how biology works, how waves work, lots of teenagers running around - and then at the end, a massive glass wall with a bloody section of rainforest in. crikey knows how they got it in there. there was a beautiful bird flying around in there... yellow and black, cawing every now and again. i felt really sorry for him. it wasn't big enough for him and he was probably alone, so he was fucked in both holes. all the time flying aroun those few trees, looking for someone, not understanding he was in a massive glass box in barcelona. i hope his sacrifice was worth it. it rained every ten minutes or so, and he'd found a place to sit high up where the sprinklers couldn't reach him, the canny bastard. so there's always that. it was great, but needed to be even bigger. but then that just means even more distruction somewhere else... argh.

and that was it. picked up our bags from the hostel, pickled peppers and cheese and bread and fruit from the supermarket, and said goodbye to those friends we'd barely made, and left for the airport, or rather, left to try and find the bus to the airport. which we did eventually, stuffed my bag into the hold - i'd wanted to only bring hand luggage, but i still had my manicure set and self harmy knife from when i had to run back home to get them to get laurence's card out of the ticket machine at london fields, and you can't take that stuff on the plane. i polished off the peppers and cheese and bread, and we went through into the departure lounge for the next few inevitable hours, broken by the joy of a genuinely great toy shop. we were too tired for much chess and the game was sloppy. eventually we were let on the plane, and i fell asleep for most of the time, waking up in middair somewhere and wondering what was going on. carol (laurance's mum) was there pick us up and took us back to rugby. i tried staying awake, because it's only polite to do so while someone's driving, but it was impossible. we got in about four, and carol poured me a night cap brandy (like i needed help sleeping, but it does make it more comfortable after travelling) which turned out to be somewhere in the region of a half glass - i had a few sips and poured the rest back in the bottle.

the next day didn't really start, just sort of happened, i was on the couch with yashi when loz and carol got back from the osteopath, and we went out to rugby. first stop was the indian shop, then carol's frined that runs a low fi 'i can't believe it's a shop' out of the church/community centre (i wish there was more of a seperation but there you are), with the best samosa's i've ever had, made by his wife. then the inevtiable supermarket, then blockbuster's. we got out v for vendetta and the prestige. went home and it was time to make tea. carol was watching some awful cooking program for some reason, given that it was mostly meat. when graham got home she had a go at him for not taping her program.. such is life. dinner was good, then we weatched the prestige. carol fell asleep during the credits, so there wasn't much hope for explaning it to her when she woke up an hour in. then we played ico and shadow of the colossus into the small hours... you know that point, where you're doing something you love, but you just can't anymore..

and no one said the eurovision semi finals had been on that night.

friday hung out with loz's nan, then watched v for vendetta (not a patch on the comic, the love interest ruined it. why do they change things? the comic wasn't perfect, alan moore said as much, and maybe it needed to be more relevant to today's world than thatcherism, but they did not do it justice), i found out that i wouldn't be starting the job on monday, it slipped back a couple of days due to holiday absence of the hr manager.. i gritted my teeth and told myself it was ok. and i came back to see a hawk and a hacksaw with the hun hangar ensemble, avec ian and james. and i pity anyone who didn't get to see that tour. brilliant, quasi danceable jazz-folk.

the joy doesn't end there, however, despite me being back in london, because i woke up in the morning and found out it was eurovision! i got on the phone and called everyone in london; and somehow it was more succesful than my groucho marx party. dips, crisps, and pasta 'n' pesto, and muchos alcoholos. i'd also spent a very pleasant afternoon with adrian, after bumping into him at tottenham court road, on my way to pick up my jeffrey brown tshirt from gosh, and buy geek stuff (the last issue of phonogram, pokemon starter set). the night ended with agames of munchkin and pokemon

on sunday i was woken to the sounds of the party being cleared up. i joined in as best as i could and mooched about a bit more. i bought a tooth brush to replace the one i'd left in valencia a week ago (ew...) and felt the dramatic need to watch a musical. so out went the invites again and out came hedwig and the angry inch, which i watched in the excellent company of rachel. ian fell asleep, the poor thing.

and i as said goodbye to rachel that night, i thought, what an awesome holiday this has been.


a thouroughly long week part two: it all goes to shit

so on friday i lost my bloody job. they said i'd ran out of work, and being a temp, that means they can just tell me not to come back on tuesday. they might still call about the permanent role it was meant to turn into... i'm not going to hold my breath.

i was suspicoious of the job, but it sounded good. temp to perm, they said, at least a month. i thought, it could just be a nonexistant carrott to get some schmuck in to do some data entry. well when i was there, there was someone who was being trained up, so i had to wait my turn and in the meantime they can just let me wander the streets.it's a far cry from the month i worked at manchester uni with actually nothing to do. before they moved us around. come back public sector, all is forgiven.

there are two alternatives: either they didn't like me, so they pretended there was no work and will find someone else to do their dirty capitalist psuedo-business, a chart pop loving, school disco going, straight; or there was actually not as much work as they thought. in which caes, did i just do it to quickly? is that me trying to convince myself i was sacked for being too good, as a defence mechanism?

anyway, it really got to me and i got upset. i just wanted the weekend to be over already. i think london wears me down; i can't cope with things here like i can elsewhere. i don't have as much emotional armour. i went and hung out in shops for a couple of hours then met ed underneath freddie at tcr. i put on my walkman on leavng work, and painkiller's 'devil's eye' came on, which was exactly how i felt. so we went drinking. had one or two then went to meet my lovely friend robin, and hung out in gay pubs in shoreditch. the joiner's arms is a aright jolly place, they have one of those virtual jukeboxes with 2 million songs. a pound a play.. but you get the actual song you want. i put 'miserable lie' on, which somewhat went against the grain of the pub but was absolutely essential. went home at a reasonable time.

the next evening was ian's official birthday. his unofficial, i.e. actual, birthday will be thursday. but it's a saturday night, it's dinner in the dove and then off to after school club. luke came down; i met him at tcr and we waitied for a bus. within a couple mof minutes it became obvious that the tub ewould haver been a better idea. i'm not very good at choosing even when i can decide. we came back and had tinned spaghetti on toast, with halloumi on the side for me. ian, his sisters, thalia, and luke went to the dove for tea. i hung around for the shower, played open-tuned guitar and ablotued. katie got back and made tea, i packed my dancing shoes and caught up with the others. we were drinking, and drinking some more, and luke was telling me about his cream competition with andrew. i mentioned i have another friend who once said her favourite food was squirty cream. luke asked if he could send her a text, and i said, sure, just let me read it before you send it. well i was somewhat taken aback by quite how inappropriate what he'd written was. i told him so, and also to put a reference to me at the begining not the end, and let me read it again before he sent it. but in an action i cannot comprehend, he sent it, after removing any mention of me at all. i was distraught. and completely baffled as to why he'd think his actions were funny, and not horriffic. in between the sending and the delivery, i wrote out a complete explanation and apology, and waited for it to go through. i had a... terse response from her. very mature and level-headed, much more than me.i sent another apology, spoke to luke briefly about it, then asked him not to speak to me for the rest of the night.

i actually had a really good time at after school club, although i largely danced alone until jez and adrian arrived, since ian's other friends seemed to be more interested in being static. and not speaking to a friend is always difficult, but it really was the best way for us to get on - any attempts at positive interruptions i was finding really quite irritating. i left early, as i had done last time, just because at two i'd had enough.

sunday was rubbish. mopey and dim and rotten. i finished off the block of halloumi for breakfast. booked a practice room for tuesday, and walked round to check it out. et chips and bean sfor tea, watched an absolutely rubbsih program about rock and fell asleep.

i don't know where this thing with luke will end up. but enough disconbobulatoin


a thouroughly long week part one: the good stuff

while you're waiting for the last two parts of the holiday saga, time is pressing on and like all the best times of your life, you don't have a chance to write it down.

"sunny days in january

left spaces in my diary."

i'll start with last friday. no , we need to go back to thursday night, dinner with auntie leslie and uncle neil and cousin georgie, and the kick up the arse she gave me. the next day, i called up reed and asked what was going on, and recieved some very exciting job offers. a few minutes later and i'd arranged to start an exciting job on monday, temp to perm working in the city. well excited, i took myself out into hackneyto pay in a cheque from the railways company (remember the tenner i left in the machine?), visit the museum and hope for some postcards, and maybe get a curry. well the fist few parts went well, but as i wandered through hackney central no curry house could be found. i kept hapilly trudging north, until the major road became a minor one, an don the last corner of my last hope, there it was - cafe pogo. vegan. co-op. why had no one told me about this place? i went in and got a burger and a soup - the soup was a bit too stodgy to finish but the burger was good. i filled in a volunteer form and left. ruth was meant to coming from aberdare. but she never did and i never heard from her. a disappointment in some ways. so what did i do that night instead? i can't remember. i didn't go to ohmygodimissyou... i met dan for a curry around tottenham court road. it was a place i remember being excellent from a night out with debbie and her coursemates and tutors, when i was infatuated with her (hopefully this is buried in text 87). it was good, but perhaps not as good as i remember. ce cast.

saturday... i watched the 50 first dates. mayb ethat wasn't this exact night, but i did at at some point. it must surely rate as one of the worst films, not just bad but truly offensive, to everyone involved - women, hawaians, walruses, romantics, and comedians. i needed a night in. that meant i couldn't go to unskinny bop with robin. nothing is better than unskinny bop, so i had to do something so remarkably worse it didn't stand up to comparison. this was the night off i really needed and i finally had it all to myself. what's amazing is that it was the only video i could bring myself to watch.

sunday. corrie, my half brother was meant to be meeting dan and i for lunch; with no word (again), we took it upon ourselves to entertain ourselves in the only way we knew how; the dove, where i'm sure we would have met corrie anyway. afterwards we returned home, i tidied up, and then, well, back to the dove, as james and rachel were down there with some other friends... must have spent 6 hours at least, and a small fortune, in there on that day, let alone all the other days. i got out the blockbuster set, we played several games and eventually broke down into just asking the raw questions, but missing out the appropriate letter... you just had to be there.

monday was the first day of my new job, dull but not boring, and then the riot girl documentry at cafe pogo. i showed my face, enjoyed myself and signed up for a shift on thursday. i was meant to write a review of it for rachel and ian, who both wouldst have liked to have gone, but had 'prior engagements' (useful as a metaphor for freebasing, although not in this context), which i will do another time. when i remember it less. anywayyy. dinner was a roast cashew sarnie, which was supreme.

tuesday was a night of wonderful fun. the landlord approacheth, and ian and i spent two hours turning my room girly - pin kfeather boa, dresses, flowers, hand cream, recorder, acoustic guitar not electric, no solder, and to cap it off, her letters, placed in obvious sight. i went the shop and bought two litres of imported san miguel, which we sank in fron tof the news, and i played the part of the mate who'd popped over. then apparently rachel and james were back in the park, only this time drinking special brew. why special brew? after a can and several hours, it seemed like a good idea to get last orders at the cat and mutton, and then realise the reaswon why dan hadn't called was because my phone had ran out of batteries. so we lumbered back home, with now with dan, katie and katie's mum. james fell asleep on the couch. rachel said katie's mum smelled nice. katie's mum said something about us being like irish drunks. and more (which i'll save for my other blog, secret fans). i couldn't even finsih my pinmt i s was so pissed. i mean, i did, but i couldn't.

wednesday i planned to be a night off after the absolute debauchery of the night before, but i got a call from jez... their support had pulled out (i'd forgotten they were on at all) and would i like to fill in? well. yes. so here's how it went:
  1. luthien tinuviel
  2. purple milk
  3. the girl in the kid a top
  4. love ("that was about girls and radiohead. this is about girls and regret")
  5. gold top
  6. sex
  7. pregtard (i think... maybe this was after love. it was by far the highlight of my solo set)
  8. grilly's christmas song featuring adrian and ed. (link to youtube goes here)
this was at sound on leicester square. a wierd venue of poshness and priceyness. i watched the girls play and then went home, got a curry on the way back.

thursday i worked in cafe pogo. volunteering. i guess where the money goes is a good question, but they can't make much profit. as far as i'm aware, james and rachel were the only customers, and i spent a good portion of the shift talking to them. pogo is a fun place, and a fringe place like that attracts all kinds of non-sequiteur peoples.

and then on friday.. well, it's mixed from here. see you next post.


backpacking part 2: valencia

the next day, we woke up as always. then we went downstairs for breakfast which was a little light for the three euros we paid. then we went for a wander around the twisty windy streets of carmen quarter. until we hit the northern border of the town. valencia is a geographically remarkable city - they tore down the city walls to build a ringroad, and diverted the river and turned it's former bed into a park. and yet the old quarters appear to be prestine, save the truly decent graffitti all over the place. at the end of the park, where the river would have been making it's final descent into the sea, they've built the cuidad - a stunning over the top development, surely influenced by sci-fi book covers. it's what the future was going to look like before cyberpunk. there's an opera house, an imax screen, a science museum, some gardens, and an ocean museum thing (like a sea life centre), all gleaming white ceramic structures floating on the water. bizarrely the sea life goes slightly beyond it's scientific remt and includes dolphin shows, and artic and antartic areas... in valencia... where it's really really hot... there by doing their bit for global warming... yay. after checking out the aeriel view of town from the top of the cathedral and picking up some well nice pizza and quaffing some horchata from a street vendor.. oh man horchata. great stuff. made from tiger nuts, tastes like a savoury banana milkshake... we got the bus down to the cuidad and walked all the way back down the river bed park. we et... somewhere.. and went on a bar crawl in the highly popular carmen region again. we got a jug of 'agua del valencia' - orange juice, vodka, and cava - at the first terraced place that did it, as hordes of well dressed, beautiful people strolled around the night. not a place to think to be thinking about frugality. wandering around a bit, we realised we were out remarkably early by these people's standards and most places were hardly open yet. we found a rocking cafe - actually playing faith no more's 'angel dust' in it's entirety, and caused confusion by sitting in the eating area, where they told us to sit, despite telling them we only wanted drinks. i've got to make more of an effort to learn people's language next time. we had a couple of pints, and as we were leaving they were playing the same cocorosie song that they were playing in the conspiratorius place in maddrid.. funny how stuff follows you around. we wandered around and found jimmy glass, a traditionally smokey and dark jazz and cocktail bar. i had the house cocktail and ended up very drunk indeed. we ambled home somehow.

in the morning the we went to buy train tickets to barcelona, determined not to have a repeat of the madrid incident. there was a long queue and between us we managed our greatest conversational triumph yet, buying tickets for tomorrow, even getting the right train time. so then, pleased with ourselves, we went to the beach. i think we may have got another cheese or tortilla sandwich and an icecream. we walked down the beach and found ourselves at the harbour, which was all done up for some god-awful boring boat race. places like that all always surpirsingly massive. they had a maze that sort of missed the point by having no centre but merely an exit. we had some more horchata and found a bus back into town. how it got to tea time i don't know, but it involved another wander round carmen looking for the veggie diner we'd walked past.. which was closed sundays. wandering around yet more, we found a tex-mex place that was pretty decent. running low on funds and energy, we retired to the hotel. there were no shops anywhere in this town. on a sunday, when the market is closed, you just can't buy food. it didn't help that the hotel was a hotel not a hostel and had no kitchen, although one room was obviously used as one in the past, it had a cooker but a bath was in the way.

we hit monday at last. went to the market to pick up cheese and bread and fruit and got our train out to barcelona.


oh no ono vs. ephel duath, from an email to rifa

i was going to see ephel duath right, and i was walking to the bus stop and i thought 'i'll call my friend matt, he'll probably want to come. but it turned out he was going to see ohno ono, a danish synthpop band that he saw on monday that he loved so much he was going to see again tonight., since they were playing several nights in london. so i sit at the bus stop tossing coins and i call my house mate ian up and ask him what i should do. but he only makes things more complicated again by saying he'd come to see them, because it's only in farringdon which is quite close and ephel duath were on in camden. so know i have to decide for me and ian, and who would be so selfish as to deny ian a night out? so we get to farringdon, walk around in a complete cirlcle before finding the venue. when we do, the door man says 'who are you here to see' and i say 'ohno ono' and he sayd 'who? do you mean 'blahblahbhlahblah'' and i go 'that must be it, i must have misheard matt' so we pay him the money and go into the tiniest venue i've ever seen - we have to duck, the stage is full of a three-piece and the audience, all seven of them, are pressed up againist the door. so we go back upstairs to the bar and matt's just coming in, and the doorman remembers that, oh yeah, ohno ono were meant to play, but they cancelled because the stage wasn't big enough for them. we got our money back and headed out back to camden, losing ian who went home, and missed both supoprt bands for ephel duath - bossk and negura bunget - who are meant to be brillig. ephel duath come on, having recently sacked their bass player, so they're now a just guitar, drums, and singer. they completely rock out and the tunes actually make more sense in a way. i love the bond of two piece bands, they're so intimate. and they played loads more off the painter's pallette - the first three tunes of the set for a start. in fact they started with the track that i always thought was the inessential one on the album, the second to last track, and they made it rock

where does davide tiso find all those notes that he plays? having no distractions meant you really focused on what he was palying, and i didn't know there was all that dischord to find in the scale.i'm going to have to work out how to play all his albums all the way through to understand how he does it. then i'll be able to play guitar.
the new drummer was brilliant - watching him go for it in the closing segment of 'new disorder', while repeatedly checking his sheet music to see what the next fill was going to be. okay, he's not that new anymore, this is his second tour i think, but he really came into his own. obviously he's hit it off with davide in a big way, the next album is just going to be the three of them.

c'est tout


travels part 1: madrid

in the morning we broke fast with wheetaflakes, which are quite delicious, and rode to gatwick. except it was more complicated than that, with the evil ticket machine at london fields station that tried to eat laurence's card (thank cripes for quick thinking and manicure sets) and swallowed a tenner of mine. i'll get it back. but there's no post office at gatwick airport and i was stuck with the package i was carrying for ruth.being the first of may, we'd looked into what international worker's day celebrations/riots there were planned, and found a gathering at 6 in a square to the south. what with arriving, dropping bags off at the hostel and coming out again, it was gone seven when we got there; a rather nice area with plenty of ethnic restaurants. there still some police loitering around. so we thought we'd head out into town on foot and try and catch up with the fun, wherever it had gone. we meandered all the way up to gran via in the centre of town, and approaching a square, heard whistles... but it was just traffic police. there was to be no riots today, or so we thought... we went to a recommended veggie restaurant, el estragon, which must cater for tourists and or backpackers like us mostly. we sank a couple of bottles of wine with our food (onion soup, cannelloni and veggie paella. i should have had something fake too, you go to spain, you get spanish food, even if it's only a veggie equivalent, right?) i think we wound up back at home, drank with some other hostelers until lights out. we went upstairs to our room, where we admitted to each other we weren't ready for bed, and headed out into the night, beer in hand courtesy of the drinks machine in the lobby. walking round a couple of streets, we came across a line of police in front of a monument. being too stupid to hide my beer, they wouldn't let us past. i finished it off and we headed past them, and found a massive street party.streets were clogged for hundreds of metres. we walked up through the crowds until they petered out; many people looked very punk. we headed back into the crowd and bought some cans of beer off a street vendor, and soaked up the atmosphere. eventually some cool kid started talking to us, we let on that we didn't understand but it's ok cause everyone speaks english. he told us not to stand in that alcove because people were pissing there, then bade us come and drink the local cocktail with him, a mix of red wine and cola. we chatted to him and his friends, who liked football and music. they told us the party was in honour of some napoleonic defeat, some little girl who stood up or something. we steered them away from football - which in spain, it seems, even indie kids like - and chatted about the libertines a bit and stuff. one guy played us some tracks by his band, and they were really rocking. i wrote a couple of band names down for him. after a while of this joy, we needed the toilet, and the night changed. as we were rounding a corner - we were thinking of not going back, and were wandering fairly far to piss - their was a bit of a surge of people coming our way, of the type that made other people want to get out of here quickly. he went up another road and found a square, pissed in a shop doorway; when we tried to go back round the corner, we couldn't because the police had moved up on our position. it was turning proper; lines of people lobbing stuff at police, police charging and falling back like some adult version of 'what's the time mr. worf'. laurence was so happy.after a while, the crowds moved on, skips were rotated, bins thrown down, all good fun, but eventually the mass was dispersed and we skirted round the edges looking for any more action. we got to bed at a time i forget.

in the morning we walked around where the carnage had been and it was clear as day. the monument that the action was around was some arch of triumph with a statue underneath it, and a plaque to the effect of the story we'd been told the night before. we walked down the road that leads up to the prado, a beautiful boulevard (there should be an o in there somewhere), lined with palm trees and semi-permanent book stalls. there was a massive queue at the prado, because, as we found out when we got to the front, being a national holiday, it was free entry. brilliant. we started in the basement to see some glorious hidden treasures, a weird collection of basilisk jugs and goblets with nymphs and faeries for stems, paintings made of rock and crystal.. next we went to the top and worked our way down. the top floor is the smallest and mainly consists of goya's early, happy pictures of children playing. laurence wondered what all the fuss was about this goya fellow. the next floor down housed, among other things, the black paintings. the brightness and joy of the early pictures is the only thing that can prepare you for these, and it's not every day i can tick something off my life to do list. they are terrifying and distressing. full size you can see the vagueness and pain in every face. after these, there were lots of genius artists but they seem to get lost in a confusion of royal portraits and jesus paintings, until you hit bosch; again, something it's worth going there to see. we've all seen his masterworks, but full size they're breathtaking, and too big to make out all the detail on. i've a gap now; the next thing i remember is making pasta in the hostel from rough and ready ingredients. we made too much and a nice german guy helped us finish it off. he was staying one night only, on his way back from 6 months in south america. we spent the rest of the evening playing cards with him and an odd australian fellow who didn't really know what he was doing. the german lad taught us skat, not an easy job indeed, and he had to leave to catch his train before he'd really finished. we headed out for a bit to see if anything was going down tonight, but it wasn't. bed.

the next day was another art gallery day - the rein sofia. it was big. everything was big. guernica is massive, but i didn't find it particularly moving. why is that? it was full of lots of very modern art, much of which looked like wall paper to me.laurence pointed out two american girls who were wandering around at the same speed and direction to us, who had been doing the same in the prado yesterday. we even got in the lift with them, but didn't make more than polite gestures. we wandered around til we found somewhere for lunch, and got a couple of plates of racione in a bar - cheese, potatoes, mushrooms. that day we did some absolutely insane walking. we went and got pudding in plaza sol (the centre of madrid, currently a building site for a new subway station) from a patisserie, and ran into those american girls again. i wanted to stalk, but laurence took us another way - west towards the palace. it began to rain. we walked around another interesting area, to the south west, windy climby stairs and eventually came to an old balconied square which is supposed to be quite famous. we then walked north again, back through sol again but carried on in the direction that them girls went, up through the massively tall commercial streets. we didn't find them, but went for a drink in a smart, possibly gay, bar, then started hitting the tapas trail. most recommended places in the guide book were unfindable or closed or just didn't look that good, so we just found somewhere for grub, ordering two vermuts and a egg-and-potato dish, which turned out to be fried egg and chips. checking out the guide book again, we realised the best place to head was south of gran via again, where an impressive run of tapas bars lived. we took ourselves inside la zapata (or something, ask laurence) for a jug of sangria and some burnt salty veg. checking the book again, we forsook the nearby outlets in favour of a little walk down caller del huertas (earth street, if i'm not mistaken) to a veggie place. it wasn't there, but we found a really cool bar - conspiratorius or something - with awesome music - they even sold t-shirts of themselves. we had another oily potato dish, delicious this time, some more vermut and a beer. then walked home, not a short undertaking from the southern old quarter to our northern hostel.

te next day was friday, our last in madrid. we went to cafe commercial for an excellent coffee, croissant and delicious buttery potato tortilla, then to the train station. negotiations were tricky across the language barrier - i had become the designated talker, preparing stock phrases in my head, getting them out fine, but having no idea of the reply. we got two tickets to valencia, but not until 8 o'clock. realising this was the case, we spent the rest of the day leisurely in the parc real, playing chess with the pensioners (until the parky closed the games house for no apparent reason), eating ice cream, another cheese bagguette, looking at the cool trees and lakes, and playing uke. with a couple of hours to spare, we went back into town for supper and happened by complete chance to find a completely brilliant veggie buffet, which charged by weight. nice hot grub, which a dog tried to steal off me while we were sat outside, sending ukelayle and water bottles flying. so then we went for the train, satisfied. the train station had had the platforms moved three hundred metres further along the track, leaving the main concourse empty, so the authorites filled it with tropical plants, needing constant spraying with water and heat. it was more like an airport, and laurence bought dirty porn comics for some reason*. baggage checks and videos on trains.

we got into valencia and it was lovely. madrid is a quintessential industrial midlands town, but in spain and quite old. it's pretty rocking but not very scenic for the most part. i don't know what we'd have done with any more time but go to more galleries and museums, or head out to the surrounding towns which apparently are fabulous. we got to our hotel about midnight, a truly bizarre building with uneven floors, garish wall paint, pointless rooms and furnitures, and windows that look between the corridors. fantastic. then we went outside again to see if maybe we could get some food or drink, but the only place open was the noisy, cheesy, cafe madrid, pumping out far-too-loud house and revellers under our window. never mind, we slept well in our buckled double bed.


a brief musical interlude

it's been a while since i've put any new songs up. this isn't finished,. but it's what i did today and i'm quite proud of it at the moment. it's on my re-juvenated rupertspace page, and it's chord 'reed (hove branch) (demo)'. i also put up kinky friedman crimeclub and klein bottle fishtank, to demonstrate what is clearly becoming a new direction. look and listen.

bonus section for fact fans!
  • the song is essentially two metal riffs stuck together, the second being pretty hard for me to play. i wouldn't say i nailed it, but i'm proud of what i've done.
  • the parts used are: clean lead/rhythm guitar with reverb, distorted lead guitar in octave one, distorted lead guitar in octave two, distorted rhythm guitar, bass, and drums.
  • in riff a - used at the begining and end of the song - the higher guitar is more prominent in the mix. in riff b - in the middle of the song - the lower guitar is louder. this reflects the position at which each track riff was written, but in my opinion it sounded better doubled up so that the melody didn't suddenly drop an octave, rather just the emphasis drops.
  • the song structure is not finished. i'm really just playing around with trying to fit the two riffs together.
  • the demo was originally called 'hove' for reasons that aren't clear to me. i change it to 'reed' and then added 'hove branch' in case it might mean something.
  • the eagle-eared (does the analogy stretch? maybe i mean wolf-eared) will notice , as i just did, that riff a follows the same basic pattern for it's first bar of music as kinky friedman and pretty girls make cakes - that is, a bass note struck for 2 beats, then a high note for one beat, followed by a note a semi-tone lower than the high note for one beat. get a new trick, grilly!


holiday part 0: brighton.

during this tale, ever meal i've forgotten is almost certainly a cheese sandwhich.

i can count this adventure from saturday. two saturday's ago in fact. it being rach and robin's annull birthday bash at their downstairs flat in hove - i always forget that it's robin's birthday too, and i always forget to buy them presents. i'm such a bad friend. i was almost sort of in towo minds about going, and left perhaps a little late in the day. from the train i went to jess' housewhere she lives with some very cool cowly-ish people and stompy the dog. we played the game of life, et rissotto, and kept it real. i got to the party around midnight i suppose; it was somewhat subdued overall, even with css, pulp, and at thedrive in, it was only me, robin and robin's girlf (sorry, i forget your name) dancing. and that got awkward quickly. good conversation and comfy cushions.

clearing up the next morning was surprisingly easy, and we nearly made breakfast at the sanctuary. in fact, some people did, but i was literally less than ten minutes after the 11:45 cutoff point. which didn't bother me too much because it was really too expensive for me anyway. i took myself into town to go to edge world and dave's, and ended up spending thirty-odd quid on the phil collins three, 65days of static, and the locust in edge world. that shop is irrestible. i can't recall what i did eat now. maybe i just forgot to eat at all.i came back to the beach, where we sat around for a bit a dodged frisbees. a man called jacob apologised for calling me a fucking wanker twice the previous evening, which was odd because the second time it was really funny and perfectly timed - it was the first one that felt misplaced (not that either was not said in jest). then rach and i went back into town, chatted to jim and el mcgee and met rifa for foods - redveg and pies. i et two, going on three meals in that sitting. i came back to london and went to the dove with ian, thalia and this rachel (this could get confusing so from now on rachel wheeler will be 'this rachel' and rachel weston will be 'rach'drinks turned into dinner as it was thalia's birthday. or something. no, that doesn't make sense, that was another night. maybe i'[m rolling several evenings into one here.

monday was an organisation day until laurence arrived. i'd tried to pick up my ke on saturday but i'd left my keys and ended up being hcarged 8 pounds for trying to come out the same tube station i went in, which dilligence earned me back. so i got my uke and met laurence at euston.we went to the guitar shop that sells the gorgeous guitar i want to buy, and by playing around, found that maybe it wasn't so special after all. i mean,m it's still gorgeous, but maybe not necessary. then we went to gosh and i left jeffery brown a letter and a blank t-shirt, then we walked down to aldwych and the king's college student union, where chris t-t was soundchecking and rifa was hanging out. tommy joined us too, and the three of us went to see a silver mount zion at the scala. we got chips (basically[actually i had a falafel]), and went in; the gig had been totally oversold and was steaming, but we managed to find a good vantage point. they were brilliant. when loz and i got back here, he started playing guitar and i got a telling off from ian. i packed and we went to sleep.